Castlevania: Lords of Shadow did something only a rare few games have done, it took a decade old franchise which wasn't even in a state of disrepair and managed to bring it hurtling into the naughties, taking a predominantly 2D title and making it into a 3D action adventure title that Kratos himself would be jealous of.
Packed with a gripping story, an all star cast including, Robert Carlyle and Patrick stewart, and throwing in epic fights with blistering combos and gigantic bosses reminiscent of Shadow of the Colossus.
MercurySteam, under the ever watching eyes of Konami, have taken up the mantle one last time to deliver whats shaping up to be a great sequel but before I can go on, if you’ve yet to play and finish Castlevania: Lords of Shadow then I implore you don't read any further, lest you ruin the ending for yourself.
If you’ve finished it however or simply don't mind spoilers then here we go.
So, the game starts off in the castle of none other than Dracula, who was revealed to have started life as the holy knight Gabriel Belmont (a bit of an ‘ahh that makes sense’ moment for fans of the series) revealing once and for all the link between Dracula and the Belmont family.
At the height of his strength, many years since the first game, Dracula not only longs for a release from his immortality through redemption, but has been warned of Satans return must regain his powers, ready to face the lord of evil once more. The key to Dracula/Gabriel regaining his power lies within his expansive castle, as you would expect however this wont be a simple scavenger mission as the brotherhood of light along with the Belmont family and Gabriels son Alucard want him dead and are knocking on the doors and walls.
As with the first title, your main weapon is Gabriels rather beastly chain-whip which this time has the cross removed earning itself the gory title of Blood Whip. Along with this for standard fare, Gabriel is also equipped with a Void Sword which leeches life from your enemies and the Chaos Gauntlets that will destroy enemy shields and armour in a flash. Gabriels abilities are now powered entirely by blood which means that, you guessed it, you’ll need to feed as well as pulling of ripping combos, giving your foes a love bite is a requirement every now and then
The fighting feels as solid as ever with the only sticking point coming in the shape of counter attacks. On a fair few occasions I would block with perfect timing but still have someone from the side give me a prod which would somehow break my stance and this overtime could get quite frustrating. Beyond that quite minor issue though, I quickly felt at home dolling out the abuse to the brotherhood.
The stages are huge and completely open for roaming and no doubt back tracking later on, along with the expected amount of platforming expected of the ever graceful Gabriel. Titans, one of my favourite parts about MercurySteams reboot, play a once more integral role in Lords of Shadow 2 with the first encounter I had really blending all elements of the game.
A hulking great robot which was in the process of destroying the castle was ripe for some punishment, calling me to leap onto his frame and climb is frame, all the while having to time jumps perfectly to avoid the various cogs and moving parts and indeed blows from the ever flowing arrows the brotherhood wished to send my way.
This section alone left me feeling the same love I felt for the original Lords of Shadow, this sequel is both everything you could ask for in terms of story while building on the games mechanics, challenging you to up your abilities in order to defeat the brotherhood.
Overall, Castlevania Lords of Shadow 2 is looking pretty fantastic. Now if only they could sharpen up the fighting, just a smidgen.